ER wait times miss the mark
The province is aiming to have 70 per cent of ER patients discharged within four hours, but in the first week of November, only one of the five ERs in Edmonton hit that mark. None of Calgary's four hospitals met the target.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital had the lowest rate in Edmonton, with only 35 per cent of patients being released in four hours. The University of Alberta Hospital was next with a rate of 38 per cent.
The Stollery Children's Hospital had the best result with 75 per cent of patients released within four hours.
Alberta Health Services has also set a target of having 45 per cent of patients seen, assessed, treated and admitted within eight hours. The Stollery Children's Hospital met that target in 64 per cent of patient visits — the only Edmonton hospital to do so.
The figures for the Grey Nuns Hospital (21 per cent), Misericordia (21 per cent), Royal Alexandra (28 per cent) and University of Alberta Hospital (28 per cent) all fell short.
Wait times are mostly caused by patients taking up ER space while waiting for beds to open up in other departments, according to Dr. Felix Soibelman, an emergency room physician at the U of A hospital.
"We need to get those patients out of our emergency departments," he said.
"We're not asking for anything more for our emergency, we don't want any more emergency beds. We are just fine seeing the patients that are presenting. We just want our emergency departments back."
Soibelman also takes issue with the province's goal of having 90 per cent of patients discharged from the ER within four hours by 2015.
He believes the government should hit that target much sooner, and calls the current timeline too vague.
Alberta Health Services is trying to reach the 70 per cent benchmark by March 2011.